LTE: "Public Pools and Mastectomys" [sic]


I thought mastectomys had been extinct since the end of the ice age, so how can the come swimming in our pools?
See, I said 'Muslim' without saying 'should die' after it. I CAN'T be a bad person!
"Conservative families who aren't comfortable at the center won't go and it won't be the women and children who make that decision. Jodi Jaecks shouldn't make that decision either."

See, we're concerned about PEOPLE, not cancer survivors.
They should have times when you can only swim in full formal wear, for those who find anything else completely unacceptable. And other times when you can only swim wearing the skin of a bear you've just killed with your bare hands. Just to be fair and accommodating, of course.
I do love watching conservatives feel persecuted. It's why I go visit my family in the South.
She's right
My favorite part in the bible is the bit where it says "Looketh not upon the scarred chest of a cancer survivor, for thou shalt find thyself squicked." The parks department needs to accomodate proud Christians who choose to live by this tenet.
Warms my heart. Muslims and Christians, swimming together in their common hatred of the human body. Jodi has really brought the community together.
We should definitely appease repressed dickholes. I mean, after all, we wouldn't want to infringe on their God-given Constitutional right to have us all feel crippling body shame.
I thought the conservative (in attire) Muslim female swimmers rented the place for their gatherings. If they're renting the places then it's not public during that time. I think the reader may just be confused. Or maybe I am.

Question or readers here: should men and women be allowed to swim in the public pools fully nude? Why or why not?
@9 - *high five*
@ 10 - They do in Vancouver - just about every Saturday night there is a nude swim somewhere in the lower mainland - there is also a monthly gay .. ahem - 'men only' swim as well.
Social norms in this country have dictated that women cover their top since...well, since before I was born.

No one is calling for ALL women to be able to swim topless whenever they may so choose, and the only difference between a woman rockin' an A-Cup and a woman who had a double mastectomy performed, visually, are the lack of nipples.

So, nipples are offensive? Or, I should ask, women's nipples are offensive?

Of course not, but there is a certain decorum that one must adhere to in polite society.

And yes, @9, you do need to accommodate repressed dickholes. 1st amendment - they have a perfectly legitimate right to be repressed dickholes, and they are part of the public which uses this pool. In fact, they probably outnumber everyone else.


Answer, it doesn't.

How does it infringe upon my rights?

I don't want to see it. I also shouldn't have to.

Or, allow everyone the opportunity to swim topless or bottomless at all times. If you do that, then I suppose I'm cool with it.

It will kill public pools as recreation for the public, but fuck it. Y'all are cool and tolerant and this is right, despite how everyone else feels about it.

Neo-lib douchebags.
"I don't want to see it. I also shouldn't have to."

I don't want to see Christians...

I want to see women who have had mastectomies swimming in pools. You are free to assume this is due to some sort of sexual perversion on my part if you so fancy.

There, our mutual desires now cancel eachother out. What else do we have to go on? Tradition?
@13, what exactly are you under the impression the First Amendment says? Because you may be thinking of a different document. There's actually - and this may come as a surprise to you - nothing anywhere in the Bill of Rights that says you don't have to see things you don't want to see. That is, in fact, basically the opposite of the First Amendment you rather bafflingly cited.


Haha, hey, how about the fact that our culture is hella sexist for reasons of historical contingency that have never been adequately addressed in our supposedly egalitarian laws? It ain't even been a hundred years since women couldn't vote, compadre. What you pompously refer to as "politeness" and "decorum" is: A) generally not law, and b) a hideously backwards remnant of a patriarchal puritanical culture that saw bodies in general, but especially women's bodies, as dirty and sinful, and therefore more or less guaranteed to be discriminatory wherever it is law in some misbegotten form.


So dig this: the fact that something has been done since before you were born? That in itself is a pretty good reason to re-open the question.

Also consider digging: public baths in the entire rest of the world; nude beaches and naturist camps; casual nudity in pretty much any place that doesn't share America's neurotic sex-panic. People's brains don't break because of the absence of shirts! Re-fucking-lax!

Goddamn, I can't believe you dragged a conversation about swimwear down to this level of ignorant-ass conservative ninnyhammering, and honest-to-goodness suggested someone's Constitutional rights include making other people put on shirts. For fuck's sake.
"Conservative families who aren't comfortable at the center won't go and it won't be the women and children who make that decision."

Indeed it won't. It will be the conservative men who make that decision because their women and children do what they say.
I support the rights of all people to swim topless.

I do not support mudslimes getting special burka pool hour. If they want to swim covered up they can do it in Dubai.

I want to see women with single and double mastectomies do everything in society - swim, walk, eat, sleep, and so forth.

Why does someone who has had this surgery need to swim without a top (or a standard one piece, which would obviously fit better in this instance)? What does she lose out on if she is unable to do this?

If it is nothing, or if it is insignificant when compared to what everyone else might lose, then it is not just acceptable to not allow her to swim topless, it is the right thing to do.


First of all, seriously, stop drinking so hella much Mt. Dew.

Secondly, what does allowing her to swim topless do for the equal rights of women in this country?

I know what taking the vote in Illinois by Susan B. Anthony did for women. I know what Sally Ride did for women as the first US woman Astronaut. I know what Hilary Clinton is doing for women by being, arguably, the most politically powerful woman in US history (with the possible exception of Abigail Addams), but I have no idea what swimming topless after a double mastectomy will do for this cause.

I'm hella dumb, though. Maybe you can explain how treating her as every other woman is treated violates her rights somehow.

(free expression and assembly and speech...with no deterrence by government. Still, you can't yell "movie in a crowded firehouse, no?)
@18 you are a real class act.
Oh yeah, also @16, women in Wyoming were voting in 1869. When I do the, carry the one...*scribble, scribble*, yep...more than 100 years.

Most women were voting prior to the passage of the 19th amendment. There was simply no constitutional protection thereof...except there was - the 14th amendment guaranteed women, and every other citizen of this country, all the rights guaranteed throughout.

The world is hella sexist, DUDE. I didn't make it that way, but if it makes you feel better, I don't want to see Lance Armstrong and his one good nut swimming bottomless in a public pool either.
It is great that their are times set aside for Muslim women to swim in accordance with their lifestyle.

That doesn't sound great at all.
@21 men and women cannot swim bottomless. That's equal.

Men can swim topless, women are told they cannot. That's not equal.

This woman wants to swim topless because swimming tops irritate the scars from her surgery.

Have I helped you?
I thoroughly enjoyed clicking on the rectangular green "mailbag" tag that links all such Slog posts onto one wonderful page. In fact, I've barely made it through the first few posts, but now think I may have to go grab a six pack and make a night of it.
When the Muslim women are swimming, they aren't in burkinis. They can wear regular swimsuits because they don't need to be hiding from the gaze of men to whom they aren't related.

@13- The First Amendment gives them the right to express their asshole ideas, it doesn't force the rest of us to live by them.
Hey, Anna? Jodi Jaecks' time at the pool IS her work on healing.
@13: That was an awfully longwinded way of saying that you are a douchebag.
Everyone should accommodate conservatives and conservatives should accommodate no one.
@21& 23--and let's just acknowledge right now that most men swimming topless really should put a shirt on. Please.

@19, go back and read the original articles. Since having 'this surgery' the tops on swimming suits have irritated her scar tissue.

@13, there's a pretty significant difference between women rocking the A cup and a woman who has had a double mastectomy. Maybe not so much difference between a AAA cup and a woman who has had a double mastectomy, other than the physical trauma that the cancer survivor has endured. They even share the same insensitive inquiries as to why they haven't elected to have augmentation (a total stranger once told my AAA cup sister thatshe could be so pretty if only she'd have her breasts done).

So it must just be women's nipples that are offensive. Mine are doubly so because they're pink.

Anna Bergman is a twat
And a note to Anna Bergman: try to, not try and. That makes me crazy. Break the compound predicate down and you'll find that it doesn't make sense: Community centers need to try/Community centers need to accomodate. What do they need to try? They need to try to accomodate, they do not need to try and accomodate, as if the trying is a separate action.

So ALL WOMEN should have the right to swim, walk around in public, etc topless and not just this one woman?

That's exactly what I said. If this is necessary for one woman, then it is necessary for all women. If it's not necessary for all woman, then it is not necessary for this one woman.

Thank you for making my argument for me.

And, of course, men don't have sex organs in their chest like women do.

What? Breasts aren't sex organs? Then, why are humans the only species of mammal to have females with constantly engorged breasts and every other species of mammal's females ONLY have engorged breasts when they are trying to signal they are ready to mate?

Hmmm...that's a head scratcher.

sorry. you are a douchebag. was the brevity in that statement more to your liking?

This is the only solution to her chaffing issues, I assume?

Of course it isn't. I can think of 100 other solutions (that her medical insurance should pay to test out) that would work for her in her swimming, and work for everyone else who wants to swim without having to see her sans a top.

also, I said VISUALLY. I understand what the mammary glands are and what it means to no longer be in possession of them as a woman.

I also know how hard surviving breast cancer is, like I know how hard dying from multiple myloma cancer is (2 people close to me, women as it just so happens, have perished from this shitty form of cancer).

Life's a bitch. I don't need to be reminded of it every time I want to go swimming.
"Life's a bitch. I don't need to be reminded of it every time I want to go swimming."

Yep! That oogie cancer survivor should have to put her chest away because "icky". That's the real reason behind most people's objections.

Meh, I go swimming at a public pool every weekday. If Ms. Jaecks or someone in a similar situation wanted to swim topless, it wouldn't phase me. There are a couple of Muslims ladies who wear full head to toe swim gear when I'm there, too. That doesn't phase me. There's plenty of families with whooping, shrieking children - which comes closer to bugging me, as they're loud! - but meh, that's part of going out to be around & with our fellow humans. Sometimes we see or hear or interact with people we wouldn't regularly.

Maybe Ms. Jaecks can come up with a covering that's more comfortable for her, maybe not - but talking about why she should or shouldn't have to has been enlightening.
@34: Every time you open your mouth, you prove how miserable your libertarian manchild existence would be, if inflicted on the rest of us.

I'm a socialist (mostly).

Like I said, if she should be allowed to go topless, then all women should.

Scars are unattractive. I didn't make the rules. I'm just not so delusional that I ignore them.

Regardless, it is customary for women to cover their chests. Drop the custom or abide by it. I care little for which choice is made, though the former would basically destroy public pools as family recreation, so there's that.
1. Why would any women be allowed to swim topless, mastectomized or not?

2. Why would anyone object to women bathing in burquinis at any hour? They're wearing more clothing than is necessary for public modesty, not less, and lots of women cover their hair with caps in the pool for non-religious reasons. Do Muslim women need single-gender pool time or something?
@38: You have yourself stated that the reason women cover their chest is because female breasts are sexual organs (and yes they are), which means that women don't cover their chest to cover their chest, the cover up their sexual organs. If she's had a double mastectomy she doesn't have sexual organs on her chest to cover up. So the question regarding equality isn't "do other women have to cover their chests?" it's "do other people with large scars have to cover their scars?".

Whether or not the sex organs remain (and, if she has a reconstruction at some point, she will still not have sex organs where she used to have sex organs, and she will also not have scars, no?), it is customary for women to cover their chests.

For the public at large, it's a women covering their chest thing.

For me, it a being freaked out by scars thing.

If that makes me a bad person, then I'm a bad person.

I think it makes me an honest person, but whatever (and Padma's big arm scar is kinda sexy, I suppose, but that's neither here nor there, other than it will give people more fuel to call me whatever name they're gonna call me).
@40 Prepubescent girls are expected to cover their chests even though they don't yet have breasts. In the U.S., a topless woman is a lascivious sight. Seeing a young girl going topless is like seeing a young girl in stiletto heels and stripper makeup; it's not exactly the same thing but it's still inappropriately sexual. Same idea with a woman who's had a mastectomy.

There are cultures in which women and girls are not expected to cover their chests in public places--and in those cultures, a woman's toplessness is not taken as an invitation to sexual speculation or behavior--but this is not one of them.

As for scars, they don't bother me. If she had a surgical scar on her arm or back, we wouldn't expect her to cover it. If she'd had an arm or leg amputated instead of a breast, we wouldn't expect her to hide it, even if others found the sight disturbing.
@41: Ok, it's either a "women covering their chest"-thing, making it completely arbitrary since men don't have to cover their chests and you base your argument on tradition rather then reason, or it's a "women covering their sexual organs"-thing in which case she shouldn't have to cover her chest because she's had her breasts removed (I agree that if she had reconstruction it would be a completely different thing, fake sex organs are still sexual) but you can't have it both ways.

@42: I guess here it's just me being Scandinavian again, here it's very common to see prepubescent girls without a top on at a beach or playing in the yard on hot summer days. Nudity isn't automatically sexual.
@41 Top-optional pools will not make them unfriendly to families - no more so than bikinis do today.

Some women will be topless - some women won't. It will depend on location and time of year but I suspect that most women will continue to not be topless because, today, most would feel more socially comfortable that way.

For those women who go topless, they will draw about as much attention as if they were wearing a bikini. In some instances, it will draw learing. In others, it will be brief curious ganders. Some people will choose to move away. Some may choose to get closer. Nothing new here.

Adolescent boys and girls may get an eyeful - maybe of what real-life women look like. That's not the end of the world, or the end of ones's family outing. Parents can alwys tell their kids to stop staring. Done. Again, isn't this the same as our bikini rules?

@42 In France too prepubescent girls are not expected to cover their chest. They are expected to start doing it when they start wearing bras, not before. If they start covering their chest before anything starts to grow there (with bikini tops - one-piece swimsuits are considered neutral), it's considered like an overly sexualization of childhood. It's about the same as seeing them in short short skirts, makeup and stilettos - not good.

Besides, on the beach it's fairly common to see women going bra-less.
@33: You're getting closer. Now try looking in the mirror when you say it.
@42 Is culture immutable? If sexualizing the bodies of women and girls is a problem, is the solution to cover them up or to question and revise the way culture treats women?

Seems you and I agree on the problem, but I would go with the latter solution. It appears your argument for your solution relies on an appeal to tradition, which is a logical fallacy. Others here have also appealed to biology. Again, if biology is the problem (women's sex organs, men's way of seeing women), there are at least two possible solutions. We could cover women, or put blinders on men (or chemically castrate them, or do other things).

I'm just asking you to consider different solutions to the problems you pose, instead of jumping from the problem to one solution via a logical fallacy.
@42 Additionally, the next time you see a man with his shirt off, try this thought exercise. Ask yourself why he is topless, and whether that reason (like a hot day) is gender-neutral. Then ask yourself if there is a good reason for telling a woman she cannot do the same. Think about that one for a long time, making sure to question your underlying assumptions. Most valid reasons will fall into the category of "solutions to a valid problem or concern". Then ask yourself if those solutions are unique. If they are not, ask yourself if there are valid reasons for preferring those solutions to others. This is a fun thought exercise when you find yourself defending a position. It will either change your mind or improve your arguments.
@44 Yes, women going completely topless will get more leering than women who cover their nipples even barely.

@43 and @45, Yes, but the U.S. isn't Scandinavia or France. In some places, holding up two fingers means "Peace," in others it means "Victory," and in others it's obscene.

In the U.S., women going topless makes a sexual statement. This is arguably cultural but it is at the absolute least heavily influenced by the biological purpose of breasts and in the psychological (possibly biological) fetishization of breasts as sexually appealing organs in U.S. culture. In fine: In all human cultures, breasts are associated with womanhood. In the U.S., that includes female sexuality.

@47 You are reading too much into my words. My argument is about context. A hundred years ago, a woman showing her ankles was inappropriate, so maybe a hundred years from now, Western women will go bare-breasted wherever they like, but Ms. Jaecks wants to swim in the U.S. in 2012, not somewhere else or in some other century.

@48 Yes, there is a good reason why a woman cannot do the same: because she would be making a sexual statement and the man would not. That might not be fair but right now that's how it is.
@48 I've got one. Start with this: If one person grabs another person on a neutral part of the body, like the arm, it's annoying, and it could be construed as assault, depending.

If one person grabs a woman's breast without permission, that person is probably getting off on it, and can be charged with a sexual offense. However, if one person grabs a man on the chest, that person probably isn't getting off on it and cannot be charged with a sexual offense. On men, chests are a neutral part of the body and on women, they're a sexually charged part of the body.
@50 Thanks for your thoughts. I did a little research. In WA state,
< "Sexual contact" means any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person done for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire of either party or a third party.> In previous court cases, the prosecution has had to demonstrate the touching was for the purpose of gratification, e.g. State v. Stevens (2006). The definition of "intimate parts" is not precisely clear, but appears to have a quasi-cultural definition. I'm actually having a hard time finding a good definition within the WA legal code. Some law library this is! It appears if someone grabbed a man's chest, and that man felt threatened, and the grabbing was to gratify the sexual desire of the grabber, there could be a legal case there. It would absolutely be assault in the tort sense, and you could make the case that there is sexual assault as well. If a man grabs another man's chest and the jury is homophobic, you could definitely make a case. Law can be subjective like that. Certainly if a man's rear was grabbed, that would be sexual assault.

I'm not a lawyer, but if that man was my client I would absolutely challenge the assumption that a man's chest is "neutral" and can be touched by anyone. Particularly if my client felt threatened.

@49 "She is making a sexual statement" is the same kind of argument as "she should have known better and deserves this opprobrium". Breastfeeding moms get the same treatment. What if she isn't making a statement and it is just hot outside? The "statement" is in your head and really isn't her problem. Why should it be?

@49/50 see also the law on indecent exposure:

(1) A person is guilty of indecent exposure if he or she intentionally makes any open and obscene exposure of his or her person or the person of another knowing that such conduct is likely to cause reasonable affront or alarm. The act of breastfeeding or expressing breast milk is not indecent exposure.

The phrase "likely to cause reasonable affront or alarm" is the crux of your argument. I'm not saying you are necessarily incorrect. I'm saying that "reasonable affront" is an imprecise definition. If I am affronted by a topless man on the grounds of inequity, is that reasonable? What grounds are reasonable?

Plus, if we have forgotten, the whole debate here is about swimming pool policies. Arguably if the policy allows breast cancer survivors to go topless, then other patrons would (quite quickly, I think) get used to it, and then we'd reevaluate what "reasonable affront" could mean in the context of breast cancer survivors. The definition is imprecise and can change as standards evolve. I say we should choose policies that favor evolving standards, not repression.

That's my final word. Good night.

@51 I mean that a man's chest is as likely to be neutral as an arm or angle is. Breasts are much, much less likely to be neutral.

I do not mean that she should have known better and deserves to be hassled. But she should cover her chest in public if asked to. She IS making a sexual statement, whether she means to or not. If I go to Argentina, and I hold up my hand in the "okay" sign, then I am making an obscene gesture, even though I only meant to say "okay." If you want to play handball in Brooklyn, you've got to learn Brooklyn rules.

The statement isn't in my head, or rather isn't only in my head. It's a fact of living in the U.S. What if someone took his or her pants and underwear off just because it was hot? That's not okay either.

@52 Wow! Thanks for reposting that. Yes, in the U.S., showing the female chest is reasonably likely to cause affront or alarm. There are parts of the world where that is not so, but this is not one of them. Yes, norms can change over time, but right now, it's not okay for women to show their chests in public.

I have no idea how looking into a mirror whilst noting that you are a douchebag will be any more enlightening than if I do it just sitting in front of my PC, but one sec. I'll give it a try.



...'re still the same douchebag when I'm in front of a mirror as when I'm not, but I do appreciate you taking the effort to prove that to everyone.

Thank you...douchebag.

Not asking for it both ways. "Ghost" sex organs, just like simulated ones, are still more than most people can take.

I agree that if women need to breastfeed their child, they should be able to do so whenever and wherever the need arises.

I also believe that they should at least attempt to take precautions so that this need won't arise when they are out in public, though I also understand that sometimes even the best laid plans can go awry. Still, my mother had a blanket or shall when these things came up, as did every other mother at the time. It doesn't seem like too much of an inconvenience to bring this along. Don't you typically have to bring a bag with diapers, baby wipes, woobies and Cheerios for the bratty little shit to spill all over the floor of the restaurant (or wherever) anyway?

A little off topic, but there is a politeness that accompanies modesty. If Jaecks tried other options beside just chaffing swimsuit and bottoms only, and none of them worked for her (I really don't know the whole story, though most of the others in this conversation don't either), then yeah. Let her go topless.

If she didn't, though, then it's her responsibility to put forth a little more effort to conform to certain societal norms like the one around women covering their chests.

Perhaps someday we will be as enlightened as the French, and also as easily coerced into surrender (which I ain't exactly saying is a bad thing), but for now, we have the societal norms that we have, and until we deal with the really important shit like indiscriminate killing and torture, let's all put our tops on (me included, if need be) and go back in the pool, no?

Fuck it. I'm a prude. Sue me.
@55 Yeah, the guys covering up would address the inequity bit. Plus, I'm sick of pot bellies.